Plans for artisan East Lawrence bakery moving ahead; city to take positions on Obamacare, gay marriage in legislative priorities statement

I suspect that as this new year begins, many of us are on a bread-and-water diet. Perhaps it is part of a New Year’s resolution, or maybe it is just more a necessity after realizing that — despite it being 98 percent off — buying $15,000 of “Frozen”-themed wrapping paper the day after Christmas wasn’t such a great investment after all. Regardless, hang in there. A new artisan bakery is coming to Lawrence.

We reported back in May that plans were in the works for a new bakery at the former laundromat at 19th and Barker in East Lawrence. Lawrence resident Taylor Petrehn, who is opening the establishment with his brother Reagan, said back then that he hoped the bakery would be open by the end of 2014. I can attest that it did not because I’m still cleaning up from an unfortunate incident where I tried to make my own sourdough at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

But I also can report that Petrehn said the bakery project is still very much alive. Construction work has now begun at the site, and Petrehn said he hopes to be open in the next “few months.”

“It is exciting,” he said of the construction progress. “It is probably the first time that building has had a level floor.”

Plans still call for the new store to be called the 1900 Barker Bakery and Cafe. Petrehn, who has worked as a pastry chef in Kansas City, said plans also still call for the bakery to be very much focused on breads, although it will offer a few pastries.

Petrehn said he plans to bake a variety of breads daily, but he expects them to have some common characteristics: a sourdough-method of leavening, lots of whole grains and “substantial” crusts that are perhaps a bit darker and more caramelized that many traditional breads.

He also plans one other curve ball for the bread industry. Instead of focusing his baking on the early-morning hours, he plans to do his baking during the day, so the loaves are fresh out of the oven in the afternoon when people are arriving home from work.

Thus far, Petrehn said interest in the project has been strong from neighbors.

“We have had a lot of different neighbors pop in and say ‘hi,'” Petrehn said. “I’ve been blown away by the support we’ve gotten from people. It has been a great assurance that we’re headed in the right direction.”

In other news and notes from around town:

• In conservative Kansas, a Legislative Priorities Statement produced by the City Commission in liberal-leaning Lawrence probably gets read by state lawmakers as much as “War and Peace” on a honeymoon. But city commissioners are set to create their annual wish list of what they would like state lawmakers to do and not do during this upcoming session.

Most of what the city asks for is the same year after year: Don’t give unfunded mandates to local governments; continue to fund transportation projects; don’t limit the power of cities to annex property; and other such matters.

But the city may dive into a couple of broader issues with this year’s statement: Obamacare and gay marriage.

As currently proposed, the city’s Legislative Priorities Statement asks lawmakers to “reconsider Kansas’ participation in the expanded (Medicaid) program.” It goes on to say that “our failure to participate is significantly reducing medical care access for Kansans and negatively impacting the ability of Kansas health care providers, including hospital, to provide care to Kansans.”

On the gay marriage issue, the proposed language is to the point: “The city of Lawrence opposes any efforts by the state legislature to pass legislation which would allow businesses to refuse service based on a customer’s gender, martial status or sexual orientation.”

Among other items on the proposed statement:

• The city supports a state policy that would require regulated utilities to have 20 percent of their energy portfolios in renewable energy by 2020.

• The city calls on the Legislature to provide “robust funding” for education from K-12 to higher education.

• The city “strongly supports” congressional action to collect mandatory sales taxes on goods purchased through the Internet.

• The city asks the Legislature to “resist any expansion of exemptions from taxation,” and notes that the “existing property tax base should be protected.”

You probably shouldn’t read that last statement to mean that the city opposes all property tax exemptions, though. I take it to mean it just doesn’t want new categories of tax exemptions offered because the commission over the past year has liked several types of existing tax exemptions pretty well. I plan to do a future article that tallies up the amount of property tax rebates the City Commission has approved recently, but the two largest have been a 100 percent abatement on about $40 million worth of tax base at Rock Chalk Park and an 85 percent rebate on about $75 million worth of construction at the HERE apartment project near KU’s Memorial Stadium.

Commissioners will consider approving the Legislative Priorities Statement at their Tuesday meeting, which begins at the new time of 5:45 p.m.